About us

The first Yorkshire Ballet Summer School, founded by David Gayle MBE, a former dancer with The Royal Ballet, was held at Ilkley College in 1973, opened by Dame Ninette de Valois, founder of The Royal Ballet. YBSS moved to York St John University in York in 1999 and Marguerite Porter, a former Principal Dancer with The Royal Ballet, became Director in 2005.

YBSS offers dance students aged 9 to 19 and their teachers a chance to attend an annual, two week residential summer school taught by renowned dancers and teachers of national or international acclaim. The 2017 Summer School will teach almost 100 students in each of the two weeks. YBSS has the special goal of giving our students the chance to take Master Classes taught by world famous dancers, most recently  Donald MacLeary, Belinda Hatley and Edward Watson.  As Marguerite Porter puts it, “Our aim is to encourage, inspire and educate our students in a happy and safe environment. We hope that they leave us with renewed joy of the dance and greater confidence.”

The growth of summer schools since YBSS was founded bears testament to their value. Students end the teaching year at a peak of fitness and training. YBSS provides the opportunity to maintain that peak during the summer break, which is important both for students’ confidence and expertise and for the avoidance of injury which can occur all too easily after a break from dancing. Our students have gone on to become professional dancers, many in world leading ballet companies, in contemporary dance and in musicals.

YBSS takes particular pride in being able to provide Scholarships to our most talented students and Bursaries for those who are unable to pay the fees. YBSS receives no government funding and the ability to offer Scholarships and Bursaries is entirely due to the generosity of our loyal supporters and Patrons. YBSS is delighted to take this opportunity to thank them again.

Over the years YBSS has attracted some of the highest quality ballet talent and YBSS Scholarships, in the past, have been given to Kevin O’Hare, Director of The Royal Ballet; David Bintley CBE, Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet; Samara Downs, (Principal) and Brandon Lawrence, (Soloist) both with The Birmingham Royal Ballet and many successful dancers within all the major Ballet Companies.

Marguerite Porter became the Director of Yorkshire Ballet Summer School in 2005 and was appointed an MBE in 2014. In 2015 she was granted an Honorary Doctorate by York University.

It was such a huge inspiration for me attending the Yorkshire Ballet Summer School and added so much to my training and knowledge of what it would be like to become a professional ballet dancer. When I look back at all the amazing teachers who taught me I feel so lucky to have had that experience while growing up in Yorkshire and I am so glad the School continues to thrive and inspire a new generation of dancers.

Kevin O’Hare, Director of The Royal Ballet

Director - Marguerite Porter MBE

Marguerite Porter trained in Yorkshire and later at The Royal Ballet School in London. After two years she joined The Royal Ballet Company where she remained for 20 years, becoming a Guest Artist for three further years. Marguerite is now a Governor of the Royal Ballet and Birmingham Royal Ballet.

Marguerite became a Principal Ballerina in 1978 and danced all the major roles in the repertoire including: Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty; Odette/Odile in Swan Lake; Juliet in Romeo and Juliet; the title role in Manon; Giselle; The Firebird; Raymonda Act III; The Dream (Titania); A Month in the Country (Natalia Petrovna); Les Biches (The Hostess); A Wedding Bouquet (Julia); Daphnis and Chloé (Chloé); Scènes de Ballet; My Brother My Sister (First Sister); Hamlet (Ophelia); La Bayadère (Nikiya); Les Patineurs (White Pas de deux); Monotones II; Symphonic Variations; Serenade; Dancers at a Gathering; In the Night; The Concert; Afternoon of a Faun; Apollo (Terpsichore).

After leaving The Royal Ballet she published her autobiography: Ballerina, a Dancer’s Life. She made a video based on ballet called Balletcise.

Television and films include: The Magic Toyshop; The Magic of the Dance (with Margot Fonteyn); VE Day Royal Gala with Sir Anthony Dowell; and a British Film Institute film, Comrade Lady.

Choreography includes: The Garden of Eros for the London City Ballet; Private Lives (Royal National Theatre); East Lynne (Greenwich Theatre); Dancing at Lughnasa (The Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh).

Marguerite made her debut Broadway appearance as The Queen in Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake in 1998. In 2003 she appeared in Rodgers and Hart’s On Your Toes at the Leicester Haymarket Theatre, playing the role of Vera Baronova.

Marguerite has been fortunate enough to work with some of the greatest names in the last century. These include: Jerome Robbins; George Balanchine; Anthony Tudor; Glen Tetley; Sir Frederick Ashton; Sir Kenneth MacMillan; Dame Ninette de Valois; and finally Rudolf Nureyev, whom she was partnered by in Swan Lake, La Bayadère, Apollo, Raymonda, Dancers at a Gathering and Konservatoriet.

Marguerite has taught at The Yorkshire Ballet Summer School for the past 16 years, also at The Royal Ballet School, The Rambert School and Company, and was a Guest Teacher for the Hong Kong Ballet Company.

Founder - David Gayle MBE

David Gayle’s first residential summer ballet course was officially opened at Ilkley College on 4 August 1975 by Dame Ninette de Valois OM, CH, DBE, founder of The Royal Ballet and The Royal Ballet School. The first Masterclass was then taught by Dame Alicia Markova DBE, DMus.


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